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AstraZeneca vaccine given provisional approval by Medsafe

Provisional approval for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been given by New Zealand's medicine regulator for people 18 and over. 

Medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Source: Associated Press

Once provisional approval is given, Ministry of Health officials provide advice to the Government to then make a decision around using the vaccine. 

New Zealand has pledged in April to give Fiji, currently battling a Covid-19 outbreak, enough AstraZeneca vaccines to immunise 250,000 people. It was reported yesterday the dealth toll in Fiji passed 200, with 715 cases recorded. 

It is the third Covid-19 vaccine to gain approval from Medsafe. Pfizer is the only one to have been given the green-light by the Government. 

Acting Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said Cabinet has not yet considered whether to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

"However, this is an important step towards enabling the donation of AstraZeneca from New Zealand to Pacific countries, where we have made commitments."

It can be kept at normal fridge temperature. 

"The first delivery could be as early as late August, and officials are working closely with AstraZeneca to confirm delivery schedules."

New Zealand has a pre-purchase agreement of 7.6 million doses, of the two dose vaccine.